Three employees of the Warren County School System Food Service Department received an invitation from First Lady Michelle Obama to attend a reception at the White House.
The invitation came as a result of West Elementary and Bobby Ray being awarded a Silver Certificate for their participation in a United States Department of Agriculture program called HealthierUS School Challenge.
The recognition fit in with the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which is what generated the invitation, according to school nutrition supervisor Jean Wix, who was one of the three, along with Melissa Livesay, food service specialist, and Ann Frye, cafeteria manager at West.
The group attended a speech by the first lady on her concerns about childhood obesity.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” said Wix. “I felt very honored our program would be recognized for the work we’re doing. We try every day to serve healthy meals and meet USDA standards, but for the first lady to recognize us, well, that was really something.”
Though Wix didn’t get to greet the first lady herself, one member of the group did manage to get up close and personal.
“She was roped off, but she walked up and down the aisles shaking hands,” Wix said. “Several people did get to shake her hand. I wasn’t where I could, but Melissa Livesay did. She was very, very excited about that.”
Livesay expressed her feelings about attending the event, the effort her co-workers put forth to help achieve the award, and her personal contact with the first lady.
“The food service department is honored to be recognized by the first lady for our efforts in seeing a need for, and implementing, healthy food service programs in our schools,” Livesay said. “These programs benefit our students far beyond their school activities.”
“Our trip to Washington was truly a unique opportunity to receive appreciation from the highest political office in our country,” continued Livesay. “Being able to shake hands with the first lady was an awesome experience.”
Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative launched by the first lady that’s dedicated to easing the problem of childhood obesity in this generation. The program involves healthy eating, nutrition education, and physical activity.
Wix said there were over 1,000 people at the White House from across the nation to receive recognition. Wix said she is pleased with the awards and will continue to strive to improve the local programs.
“Since then we have updated and reapplied for Bobby Ray and West in this county and we have received that recognition,” Wix said. “But we’ve also applied for Eastside and Hickory Creek and they’ve gotten it too, so we’ve got four schools now which meet that challenge.”
A statement on the event from the Office of the First Lady perhaps best explains what she is trying to accomplish:
“Given that many children eat as many as two meals a day at school, it’s pretty clear schools have a vital role to play if we’re going to combat the disturbing rise in childhood obesity we’ve seen in recent years. Just as clear is that schools participating in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge honored at the White House demonstrate the kind of deep commitment needed to create and maintain a healthy school environment. These schools are leaders that set an example for schools across the country.”
The first lady went on to laud the schools for their efforts in teaching students to eat smart and to take part in regular physical activity.
Wix said she was impressed with the first lady’s work to improve the health of the nation’s children, and with the woman behind the Let’s Move! program.
“The first lady was very personable,” Wix said. “And I felt like she was passionate about healthy eating and improving the quality of the meals students receive at school.”